meditation and education

A Zen approach to education

wildmind meditation news

Amanda Cregan, The Intelligencer: As students load up their backpacks and prepare for another busy school year, a handful of teens are looking forward to a stress-free semester.

At Tinicum Art & Science [Ottsville, PA], high school students are learning to focus their minds, erase life’s anxieties and tap into their creativity before classroom instruction can begin.

All classes and activities at the private, religious school are centered around the dojo, a room for meditation and martial arts that contains a shrine to Buddha.

Students begin each school day in silence as they sit in quiet reflection in the dojo, preparing themselves for …

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a day of rigorous academics.“The main purpose of the school is academics. But so much gets in the way of studying: sour relationships, fear, bad habits, confusing home life, weak skill set, and so on. We try to create the conditions that allow students to take risks and move beyond all that,” said principal Peter Ryan.

Throughout their weekly schedule, students are called to spend time in meditation, group therapy, art, chores and exercise, such as yoga and Shim Gum Do martial arts.

Meditation is an essential key; teachers and staff aim to improve the mind, body and soul of each student, said Ryan.

“Meditation develops self-awareness, first through a general quieting of the chatter within oneself, and then the capacity to observe the self while alone, and then while with others. This creates a stable space inside the self. Over time, with instruction, students learn to bring this stability to other parts of the school, even to their lives at home and with peers,” he said.

Julia Boddy, 18, of Bridgeton, graduated from Tinicum Art & Science in June.

As a freshman at Palisades High School, Boddy struggled. She had trouble sleeping at night, struggled to pay attention in class, and was even sensitive to the florescent lighting. When she transferred to the private school in 10th grade, everything changed.

“It was everything I wanted,” said Boddy, “From meditation to better eating habits to getting involved in what I was learning, it kind of made me a better all-around person.”

She admits the culture at Tinicum Art & Science isn’t for everyone, but meditation helped change her from the inside out.

“Studying meditation every day really helped me get control over myself, and it’s made me more confident in every situation,” said Boddy, who will major in literary studies at The New School in New York City this fall.

Josh and Cole Mertz, both 17, struggled with poor grades, bullying and depression before finding their way to Tinicum Art & Science. The twins’ parents commute nearly three hours a day, from Carbon County, because their sons have found peace and success at the school.

For Cole, it’s a relief to not have to deal with the sometimes brutal social scene at public high schools. He describes his current fellow students as loving and compassionate.

“In public high school, everyone wants to be better than the other one. But here, we are all equal. The kids are more understanding of each other,” he said.

The school serves about 30 students.

There are seven teachers at Tinicum Art & Science, and students call their teachers by their first name. Classes typically have fewer than 10 students. Because of the small class size, staff members can focus a lot of time and effort on each student, said Ryan. Each student’s development and needs are continually evaluated, and teachers adjust accordingly, he said.

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Meditation in the classroom, the new approach to ’emotional learning’

Canadian schools in forefront of adding psychology to the curriculum

Richard Handler, CBC News: As kids head back to school in September, some will find their teachers focusing not just on developing their intellects but also their “mental brawn,” to help adolescent brains cope better with today’s digitalized world.

It seems that as our modern-day culture grows more frenzied, some schools at least are trying to redesign education so kids can be better equipped to function amid the constant bombardment of media messages and gadgets with all their maddening stimuli.

Already students from kindergarten to Grade 8 in Vancouver, and in nearly 175 schools in …

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Children find meditation a blissful experience

Matt Bowen: Silence dominates here.

It’s noon in room two at St Paul’s Catholic School and noise is everywhere else – the four walls are ablaze with colour, art and slogans; outside, the Ngaruawahia sun is laced with the din of schoolyard kids in play.

Inside though, not a sound – the children are meditating.

The class of 14 six-year-olds is sitting in a close circle on the carpet with teacher Judy Craven the centrepiece on a chair.

Her eyes are closed, too.

The kids sit cross-legged – hands rest either on knees with thumb and forefinger touching or in laps with fingers interlocked …

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Memphis School offering meditation to middle school students

It’s not what you’d expect at a school: students being asked not to think!

“We are calling it a mental recess,” said Greg Graber, the head of middle school at Lausanne Collegiate School. “We really think this is going to help them, to sit and do nothing for 10-15 minutes and try to relax their minds to get distressed and unplugged.”

The Lausanne Collegiate School in East Memphis is trying a different way to get kids focused.

Starting in September, Middle schoolers 10 to 14 years old are going to get the option, of skipping recess to sit and do nothing.

“Have you ever tried meditation?” …

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Zen for high schoolers: ‘Notice the anxiety. Notice the fear.’

The New York Times reports not only that Brooklyn high-schoolers are attending weekly meditation sessions meant to help them handle the challenges of growing up in the city, but that Zen meditation is being offered as an alternative to traditional detentions.

The meditation sessions are taking place in the Brooklyn Zen Center, where Zen priest Greg Snyder is involved in the center’s Awake Youth Project, which includes weekly workshops in five public high schools as well as teenager-led sessions at the center.

Now, Mr. Snyder is taking on the tougher task of teaching meditation to Level 1 offenders— students who are frequently put in detention or suspended because they start fights or cause trouble — at Bushwick High School. Administrators at the school approved the program April 5 and plan to start it in coming weeks.

Students in trouble are given the choice of traditional punishments or participating in the meditation program, where Mr. Snyder will teach them how to meditate, understand volatile emotions and curb impulsive behavior. He intends to take the program to other schools as well.

One of the students reports that the meditation has been helpful in dealing with tensions at school and with her mother, who works with the mentally impaired. “It’s hard, because she has to go work with them and then comes back to us. Maybe a year ago, I’d have talked back and had a bad attitude, but now I let it go through me and accept it.”

“For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could relieve the stress on my shoulders,” another student says.

Snyder is reported as using the trauma students experience as fodder for meditation:

“This is where you actually use this. Notice the thought. That’s fine. Notice the anxiety. Notice the fear. Use the meditation to focus your mind. Are you with me?”

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US Congressman Tim Ryan discusses the power of mindfulness

In this talk, US Congressman Tim Ryan points to a quiet revolution that is happening in schools, hospitals, prisons, the military, corporate settings and the lives of millions of people around the world. This revolution is reviewed in his compelling new book, “A Mindful Nation.”

Here he shares about his own personal experience with mindfulness practice and his commitment to seeing the mindfulness and compassion at the center of our work for a better future.

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Meditation enters Mumbai classrooms

Students across [Mumbai] city schools will soon start their day by closing their eyes for 15 minutes and breathing deeply to keep stressful thoughts at bay. In an attempt to relieve the ever-increasing stress of students as well as the school authorities, the state education department has introduced compulsory meditation in all government-aided schools.

The Maharashtra State Council of Research and Technology (MSCERT) has introduced meditation sessions in the morning, for school teachers, headmistress and students between classes V to X. MSCERT director Shridhar Salunke says the council has initiated the move to help students relieve stress, boost self-confidence, improve grades and even cut down on bad behaviour.

At least one teacher from every school will be trained for six days in Anapana [mindfulness of breathing] courses, as part of project ‘Mind in Training for Right Awareness’ (MITRA).This project has been formed to spread awareness about Anapana and Vipassana courses in the education sector in the state. Last year, the state government had come out with a government resolution asking its schools to conduct one-day Anapana courses for school children.

Stating that the project will be implemented across all schools, Salunkhe said, ‘’Once trained, the teachers will spread awareness about the programme in their respective schools. In the morning assembly, schools will hold meditation sessions for 10 to 15 minutes daily.’’ A government resolution (GR) has already been issued in this regard to all education offices.

[via DNA India]
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Meditation improves emotional behaviors in teachers, study finds

Schoolteachers who underwent a short but intensive program of meditation were less depressed, anxious or stressed – and more compassionate and aware of others’ feelings, according to a UCSF-led study that blended ancient meditation practices with the most current scientific methods for regulating emotions.

A core feature of many religions, meditation is practiced by tens of millions around the world as part of their spiritual beliefs as well as to alleviate psychological problems, improve self-awareness and to clear the mind. Previous research has linked meditation to positive changes in blood pressure, metabolism and pain, but less is known about the specific emotional changes that result from the practice.

The new study was designed to create new techniques to reduce destructive emotions while improving social and emotional behavior.

The study will be published in the April issue of the journal Emotion.

“The findings suggest that increased awareness of mental processes can influence emotional behavior,” said lead author Margaret Kemeny, PhD, director of the Health Psychology Program in UCSF’s Department of Psychiatry. “The study is particularly important because opportunities for reflection and contemplation seem to be fading in our fast-paced, technology-driven culture.”

Altogether, 82 female schoolteachers between the ages of 25 and 60 participated in the project. Teachers were chosen because their work is stressful and because the meditation skills they learned could be immediately useful to their daily lives, possibly trickling down to benefit their students.

Study Arose After Meeting Dalai Lama
The study arose from a meeting in 2000 between Buddhist scholars, behavioral scientists and emotion experts at the home of the Dalai Lama. There, the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman, PhD, a UCSF emeritus professor and world expert in emotions, pondered the topic of emotions, leading the Dalai Lama to pose a question: In the modern world, would a secular version of Buddhist contemplation reduce harmful emotions?

From that, Ekman and Buddhist scholar Alan Wallace developed a 42-hour, eight-week training program, integrating secular meditation practices with techniques learned from the scientific study of emotion. It incorporated three categories of meditative practice:

  1. Concentration practices involving sustained, focused attention on a specific mental or sensory experience;
  2. Mindfulness practices involving the close examination of one’s body and feelings;
  3. Directive practices designed to promote empathy and compassion toward others.

In the randomized, controlled trial, the schoolteachers learned to better understand the relationship between emotion and cognition, and to better recognize emotions in others and their own emotional patterns so they could better resolve difficult problems in their relationships. All the teachers were new to meditation and all were involved in an intimate relationship.

“We wanted to test whether the intervention affected both personal well-being as well as behavior that would affect the well-being of their intimate partners,” said Kemeny.

As a test, the teachers and their partners underwent a “marital interaction” task measuring minute changes in facial expression while they attempted to resolve a problem in their relationship. In this type of encounter, those who express certain negative facial expressions are more likely to divorce, research has shown.

Some of the teachers’ key facial movements during the marital interaction task changed, particularly hostile looks which diminished. In addition, depressed mood levels dropped by more than half. In a follow-up assessment five months later, many of the positive changes remained, the authors said.

“We know much less about longer-term changes that occur as a result of meditation, particularly once the ‘glow’ of the experience wears off,” Kemeny said. “It’s important to know what they are because these changes probably play an important role in the longer-term effects of meditation on mental and physical health symptoms and conditions.”

The study involved researchers from a number of institutions including UCSF, UC Davis, and Stanford University.

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Meditation to help Indian students keep stress at bay

Dipti Sonawala: With a view to helping school students to de-stress themselves, the [Maharashtra] state education department has decided to introduce compulsory sessions of meditation in schools across the state.

According to officials, the new initiative — Mitra Upakram — will be implemented from the next academic year so that students are able to fight stress and stay mentally fit. The officials of state education department say this will help sensitise students and also help in improving their concentration.

Throwing light on the initiative, Dr Shridhar Salunkhe, director of secondary and higher secondary education, said, “It has been observed that the level of …

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Goldie Hawn making happiness into worldwide crusade

NZ Herald: What happens to Hollywood superstars when they semi-retire? They meditate, of course. And if anyone is going to do it with a smile on her face, it’s Goldie Hawn.

Except for her, inner peace has turned into an international mission. This week, Hawn is in the UK to promote her meditation manual, 10 Mindful Minutes. Already a New York Times bestseller, the book is aimed at parents and teachers in the hope they will encourage children to practise the basics of yoga and meditation.

In recent years, Hawn, 66 has reinvented herself as a philanthropist and sort of “mindfulness campaigner”. Because, if she …

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